Several key factors have been associated with obesity:
Genetics: This has not yet been proven beyond a reasonable doubt, but researchers believe they have found a gene that is responsible for obesity.
Diet: One of the most important factors. Diet involves the type of food, how much food is eaten, how often food is eaten and the macro-nutrient ratios of the food consumed.
Physical Activity Level: This is also a highly important factor, weighing in (no pun intended) just behind diet in order of importance. Raising activity levels can help increase the metabolism and balance some of the hormone levels when not taken to extremes (less than 2 hours per day).
Metabolism: Metabolism is ...view middle of the document...
These represent the most prevalent factors in the obesity puzzle, other factors may exist, but could probably be placed into one of the above categories.
Chapter 5 – What Causes Obesity?
Now that we have established what obesity is, who has it and some of the factors involved, let’s break down the causes of this disorder. The answer that most people have heard over and over again, would be eating too much and exercising too little and these are certainly important factors, but they are definitely not the whole picture. In fact, overeating and under-exercising may really be more or less symptoms of the true underlying causes of obesity, or they may even be, to some extent “side effects” of the disorder itself.
Despite its widespread presence in our society, obesity remains a complex and often misunderstood disorder. Obese people often place too much emphasis on either the reality or the possibility that some other underlying medical issue is the true cause for their weight gain and inability to take the weight off. Conversely, society often incorrectly accuses overweight people in general and even more specifically obese people of just being lazy. It is likely in many cases that neither of these rationales is entirely accurate. In chapter 4 we discussed some of the factors involved. It is likely the case more often than not, that obesity is a combination of these factors and that most of the factors are interdependent.
To add to the confusion, it is often a case of “which came first, the chicken or the egg?” when looking at the “causes”. For example, a person who becomes depressed often has a hormone imbalance and overeats to compensate for missing or under-produced hormones. Did the depression cause poor food choices or did eating the wrong foods in the first place throw the hormones out of balance causing the overeating and the depression? We may never have the answer to that question. It certainly does appear that no matter which comes first, the factors involved seem to line up and fall down just like dominoes.
There are also numerous medical conditions that will cause weight gain. A few examples would be: Metabolic syndrome, Hypothyroidism and Cushing's disease. To over-simplify, these diseases slow or impair the body’s ability to digest, process, or otherwise properly utilize food as an energy source. Whatever the body cannot immediately use for energy must either be removed from the body as waste or stored as fat to be used for energy at a later date. Since the body senses a crisis in its ability to properly burn food for energy, it may decide that food or energy is scarce and work to store as much fat as possible for later use. This is also why many diets recommend eating several smaller meals as apposed to a few large ones since any food that cannot be used within two hours for energy will be stored as fat.
The really scary thing is that there are two ingredients that have been incrementally increasing in our food...